I didn't sleep too clever last night at the Saunier Duval camp. I think the café con leche I had just before the presentation had enough caffeine in it to keep even Gianni Bugno happy. The team and personnel all headed off today (Sunday): Virginie and Pascal back to Switzerland; Denis Flahaut rides the Tour Down Under; whilst Leonardo Piepoli goes to Argentina.
Saturday, and it's official Saunier Duval launch day. The TV cameras are gathering, the cars are being polished and the riders are playing musical clothing with one-another: the full delivery of kit hasn't arrived from Castelli yet. On the big run yesterday there were still plenty of "Prodir" logos, despite the fact that the Swiss pen manufacturers are no longer a sponsor. So, it's not just those British clothing suppliers who get the deliveries wrong.
¡Hola! When Matxin, the DS at Saunier says; "six hours today", that's what he means. In fact it was six-and-a-quarter hours after we left the hotel when we returned to Granada. The day is up Pez here, but once again it showed what's involved in being a pro and also what it means to be a top pro. Saunier Duval.
The Saunier Duval Team Launch 2008 squad changed a little from last season - the team is made up of 26 riders, and one of its distinctive features will be it's youth: there will be no less than nine men under 24 years of age, and thus the team will be the second youngest in the ProTour peloton. The second distinctive feature of the team this season will be improved training: two personal trainers have been hired: Sergio Gelati, who worked with the team in 2007.
One of VeloVeritas’ functions it seems is unlocking the memories of those stalwarts – like our own mentor and soothsayer, Viktor and indeed, our editor Martin - who beat a path in the 70’s and 80’s to the legendary Mrs. Deene’s boarding house in Gent (and later in Zomergem) to show those Belgies how it should be done. The latest epistle which came our way was from Norman Gower.
When Scottish Cycling Endurance Coach and seven times Scottish Road Race Champion, Evan Oliphant gets in touch to tell us there’s a junior rider named Callum Thornley that we should be speaking to, we snap to attention.
When Jos Ryan of the David Rayner Fund gets in touch then we know it’s not just to ask how we are. ‘Have you been keeping up with our rider, Toby Perry’s performances in Spain, he’s just had his second win?’ Fortunately for us, we could reply in the affirmative.
If you watched Stage One of the Giro on Eurosport or GCN then you’ll have heard that someone had the great idea to recruit British professional rider, Dan Bigham to join the commentary team as a ‘chrono specialist.’ Here at VeloVeritas we thought it would be good to put to Dan all those sad questions that trouble bike obsessives like us.
John Watson started racing at 18 years-of-age in 1966, his first race was a ‘25’ which he won with a 1:00. By the following year he was National ‘100’ Champion; in 1968 he went to the Mexico Olympics; in 1969 he set a 12 hour record which stood for a decade; 1970 saw him set a ‘50’ record which sliced nearly four minutes of the previous fastest time for the distance and lasted for 13 years, win the BBAR, get fourth place in the prestigious GP de France time trial and get offered a place with ACBB.